The Middle Ages is a periodisation of European history, encompassing the period from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century.

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Did anyone ever win a kingdom through single combat without a backing army or blood tie to the throne?

I've read of instances where historians suggest that single combat of champions has been used to preempt wholesale slaughter on the battlefield; and I think I've read instances where blood relatives ...
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173 views

Until 1600, was it legal to counterfeit money?

Forging money or currency is more often called counterfeiting and, as is well known, the counterfeiting of money is usually attacked aggressively by today's governments. But, generally speaking, was ...
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495 views

Could medieval European merchants travel through the Islamic world?

I've heard that the Islamic world was closed to European merchants in the Middle Ages. Is this true? If so, when did it close and when did it open again?
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375 views

Eastern and Southern Europe in the medieval time period?

What were Eastern and Southern Europe like in the medieval period? Did Southern and Eastern Europe have knights and castles like Western Europe? I've never heard for example of Italian knights in the ...
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131 views

When the term “president” was used the first time?

Wikipedia mentions that the term was used in Oxford and Cambridge universities at least in 1464. But I wonder whether the title was used somewhere before. Was is used under Ancient Rome?
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92 views

Who besieged Karl IV at Siena?

According to Wikipedia article about the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV: His second journey to Italy took place in 1368, when he had a meeting with Pope Urban VI at Viterbo, was besieged in his ...
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350 views

How did commoners in late medieval to early modern Europe learn to read?

Literacy in the early Middle Ages was very low, but as I recall, by the time of Reformation quite a lot of commoners could read. Even if they were not very good in reading and writing, by the 17th ...
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342 views

Did the Moors and Arabs, “Muslims,” who invaded Europe, ie “Spain,” help the evolution of civilizations of Europe?

Were the Muslims viewed as barbarians similar to the Mongols, and as a people who only specialized in war? Or, were Muslims advanced enough to teach Europe scientific advancements? Did they invent any ...
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167 views

What exactly were currours, and what were they used for?

In researching this question on Medieval light cavalry, I came across this reference to "currours" in Wikipedia, with no link: Many countries developed their own styles of light cavalry, such as ...
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78 views

Linen doublets around 1380-1410, middle and eastern Europe

Most people agree that doublets and hose were made with wool on the outside and linen on the inside. Are there any evidence that confirm such belief? Any guild documents, findings, etc? Do we have ...
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138 views

Were women banned from entering the castle of Trakai?

According to legend, Vytautas the Great banned women from entering the Trakai Island Castle under penalty of death. I read it in Russian, it is called "The Horse of knyaz Vytautas". The plot is ...
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541 views

What caused the turning point in Hundred Years' War?

At school I have learned that the English had upper hand in the war until Joan of Arc convinced the French king to give an army under her command to besiege Orléans and since then, the French forced ...
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258 views

How were shields fastened to soldiers' backs?

I'm researching armor (from all time periods, though most of my reference is from the medieval era) and I found there's little reference for how soldiers traveled with shields. Some shields have a ...
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214 views

Was it not possible to exploit the gaps between each pre-modern melee formation?

Soldiers seem to be split into their respective companies or battalions but on the battlefield instead of presenting a complete front line they split up and leave gaps in the line between each ...
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102 views

Baldwin IV, the Leper King

Baldwin IV was crowned King of Jerusalem, from 1174 until his death in 1186 at the ripe old age of 24. As a child, his tutor, William of Tyre, discovered he had leprosy. Understanding that he was the ...
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219 views

How did cadet branches start?

Apologies if the History Stackexchange is the wrong place for this question but: In what ways could a cadet branch come into life? Why would a younger sibling in a royal or noble house start his own ...
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337 views

Was there any mention in historical articles regarding Joan of Arc's physical appearance?

Modern media seems to portray Joan of Arc as a very attractive girl. I don't quite buy this interpretation of her as it would also suggest plenty of suitors and could be counter productive in a camp ...
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566 views

Meaning of samurai crest / symbol

I would like to ask you all to explain the meaning of the 8-th symbol in this picture*: I would like to also know what are those symbols? Thank you very much. * Source: ...
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79 views

What would be used to write things in 15c in Europe

What sort of pens/quills would be used? Would paper, cover and bindings be readily available?
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161 views

What was the fighting style & equipment of troops in Eastern Europe & the Baltics in the 13th Century?

I want to know about fighting styles and equipment of fighting men roughly around 13th century in the Baltic/Slavic area of Europe. I'd particularly like to find out about cultures that were prominent ...
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112 views

'Sub rosa' council meetings

Wiktionary's etymology of the term sub rosa reads: The rose's connotation for secrecy dates back to Greek mythology. Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, the god of love; he, in turn, gave it to ...
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205 views

Why were even royals in medieval europe living without running water and sewerage?

History books say that after the fall of Rome, 'we' lost our understanding of their technology. But aqueducts, lots of Rome's buildings etc were still standing, monasteries had washing and toilet ...
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309 views

Medieval wall and garment patterns

To my mind Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen (1924) is a work of absolute genius, perhaps surpassing even Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) in movie history. It is very rich, beautiful, yes tragic, and ...
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171 views

Can the University of Bologna be considered the first university in the world?

There are usually two different opinions: the first group considers the University of Bolgona to be officially the first one, some others instead claim that there might have been other groups of ...
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101 views

What is the ancestry of the Robertians, progenitors of the Bourbon dynasty?

The countries Spain and Luxembourg are currently ruled by kings from the House of Bourbon, so I thought I'd try to trace back their (patrilineal) ancestry as far as possible. Well, the Bourbons are ...
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5answers
264 views

What name is taken if a man marries into a noble house?

In regards to marrying into noble houses, if a noble man marries a noble woman from a different house, I would assume one of two things happens: 1. The woman takes the man's name and the two houses ...
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370 views

Middle east and North africa population during the high middle ages

I am looking for this information everywhere, but I can't seem to find the population of anyone else but the Europeans during the middle ages. We know that the population of the European countries ...
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59 views

Where can I find the text of “Ecerinis”?

This is a play from the 14th century (reportedly "the first secular tragedy written since Roman times") relating the tale of Ezzelino da Romano and written by one Albertino Mussato. Is there an online ...
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89 views

Why was the Håndfæstning forced on Erik V of Denmark?

Håndfæstning was the name for charters forced upon the Scandinavian kings by their nobility, not unlike Magna Carta in Britain. Erik V of Denmark was the first to sign such a document. What were the ...
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2answers
98 views

Is there historical evidence linking medieval forest clearences in Europe with the Medieval Warm Period?

The Medieval Warm Period was marked by a significant increase in average temperatures throughout Europe from around the mid-10th century to around the mid-13th century. This allowed an expansion of ...
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1answer
224 views

How was food produced in Europe/Germany prior to the industrial revolution?

I'd appreciate any pointer to books or other medias that cover the production of food prior to the industrial revolution (with the regional focus being in Europe or even more narrowly in ...
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1answer
170 views

Wales and Ireland in medieval times

There is a very interesting article on wikipedia on Welsh Law. Though it defines the structure of the Court in Wales in the late medieval period, it says nothing of the status of other nobles and ...
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210 views

What is known about the possibility of a “real King Arthur”?

I once saw a documentary that discussed a discovered possible "round table" but wondered how "pie in the sky" this possibility was as well as just how much/how little evidence is there for any ...
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1answer
398 views

Did the pope try to suppress the number zero?

What evidence exists to indicate that the Pope attempted to suppress the number zero? In an editorial review, Rob Lightner claims that "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea", by Charles Seife, ...
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134 views

Subjects of sermons in the Middle Ages

Were they more often devoted to New Testament subjects or to Old Testament subjects?
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84 views

When was King Alfred first called 'Alfred the Great'?

In his book on Alfred the Great, historian Justin Pollard notes that it was in the 16th century that King Alfred was first called 'Alfred the Great' - no reference, no note, no bibliographical text ...
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3answers
1k views

How effective were longbow archers against plate-armored infantry?

It is quite common knowledge that longbows most likely did not penetrate the plate armor worn by the French chevaliers at Poitiers and Agincourt. However, how effective were these longbows in ...
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2answers
116 views

What specifc training occurred for members of medieval military orders?

What were the dominant martial and clerical themes to the training of knights in medieval military orders? Were there specific fighting or training techniques, or weapons, adopted to meet religious ...
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1answer
102 views

What sort of architecture existed in Catholic Eastern Europe around the late 1100's and very early 1200's?

What I'm really interested in most is building materials, but I'm pretty open to answers. Essentially, it sounds like the late 1100's in Eastern Europe were still pretty solidly Romanesque, with ...
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35 views

What were the advantages of sheepfolds? [on hold]

In the British Isles (and other regions of the world) drywall pens were built for sheep. In England they were called sheepfolds. What the the advantages of this format over others in common use at ...
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56 views

What difference is between “seigneurie” and “manor”?

In the Spanish/Austrian Low Countries a change in the ancient coat of arms of a seigneurie could not be made except by authorization of sovereign. The coat of arms of a noble family could be ...
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212 views

Why are there so many depictions of pre-Christian gods built in Medieval and Renaissance Rome? [closed]

I wonder why Church officials not only allowed but also endorsed and paid for depictions of pre-Christian gods. Examples include Pietro Bracci's Oceanus, which was funded by the Pope, and multiple ...
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265 views

Why was spice trade so profitable in the 15th century? [closed]

During the 16th century, Portuguese captured Melaka to dominate the lucrative spice trade; other city states such as Aceh, Banten, Brunei and Pegu also sprung up by exporting and trading spices. ...
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122 views

Symbolism of lion with forked tail

The John de la Pole tomb in Wingfield church has his feet resting on a lion with a forked tail. Does the forked tail symbolize anything please?
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1answer
154 views

In the History Channel series the Vikings, who is Ragnar? [closed]

I've been watching the Vikings series on Amazon and I am curious who Ragnar, the main protagonist is supposed to be based on? I think he is supposed to be the "first" viking leader to raid England. I ...
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1answer
157 views

What are the highest and biggest half-timbered buildings built during medieval era?

In any part of present Europe, let's say before the fall of Constantinople (1453 AD). Also if you can show me a drawing or a picture (if these buildings are still there), I would appreciate it. Also, ...
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1answer
86 views

When did the Polovtsy convert to Islam?

Polovtsy is a name used to refer various Turkic tribes living to the East of Kievan Rus. I wonder at what point those Turkic peoples became Muslim?
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93 views

Why were Catholic priests prohibited from participating in ordeals but allowed to participate in inquisitions?

Pope Innocent III prohibited priests from participating in ordeals during the Fourth Lateran Council, but Pope Innocent IV later allowed torture in inquisitions. What is the ideological difference?
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What is the origin of Dragons? [closed]

I kinda expect that it should be in the medieval era (I could be wrong). However, the more interesting question is why did people makes stories of strong powerful creatures which were harmful to them ...
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How did people from pre-industrialization era perceive “success in life”? [closed]

My assumption is that the industrial revolution had contributed to the current generally-held understanding of "success in life": go to prestigious university, get a good job, make good money. Now, ...